Chevron Meets With Minority Leaders To Discuss Diversity

People in the African-American community say relations with the Chevron-Texaco Refinery in Pascagoula are improving.

Last year the company began having meetings with citizens to talk about minority hiring and Chevron's impact on the community. The Refinery employs 1,200 people. But over the years, critics have said not enough of those employees are minorities.

Only 24 percent of Chevron workers are women and minorities, so improving diversity is important to those who came to the roundtable discussion.

"The minority community had an opportunity to express any myths or misunderstandings that they may or may not have had about Chevron," said Diann Payne with Jackson County Civic Action. "It also provided Chevron with an opportunity to clear up some of those misconceptions and misunderstanding, especially when it comes to employment opportunities at the refinery."

Thirteen people from outside the company attended the meeting. Chevron began holding the gatherings last year, and people in the black community have welcomed the chance to be heard.

"I think they are very beneficial because this establishes means of communications and open dialog between the community and Chevron, " local NAACP leader Curley Clark said.

The citizens gave Chevron high marks for involvement with schools, charities and community projects. Chevron officials say they plan to continue nurturing those relationships.

"We hope we will learn something about some of the good things we're doing, and if there are some areas where we need to improve, then we'll hear about that too and we can work on those," Chevron Public Relations Manager Steve Renfroe said.

Participants say the meetings are a step in the right direction to improving in the future.

By Myya Durden